The name game 

 The name game 

Boys in suits

To climb the corporate ladder, you’ll need to build your personal brand – and guard it closely once you’ve done so. You’ve probably been told at some point that reputation is everything. This applies not only to your real-world, physical reputation, but also to your online reputation. Follow this advice to ensure you don’t slip up with either …

Managing your real-world reputation Once you have that all-important degree and have landed your first job, you’ll find that your academic pedigree and impressive title become, well, housekeeping tick-boxes. What becomes critical in your climb up the corporate ladder is your reputation. Your superiors and future employers want to know that you have what it takes to get the job done and that you can handle change, crises and adversity. However, ensuring you have a good professional reputation requires more than just doing your job competently.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED For starters, always ensure you’re up to speed with events. Don’t go into meetings having only given a cursory glance at the preparation material. The more prepared you are, the more you will be able to impress management with insightful questions, comments and suggestions.

BE CONSISTENT Irrespective of what is happening in your life, try to project an image of yourself as consistently reliable, pleasant, composed and competent. Moody and erratic individuals tend to get a reputation for being unreliable pretty quickly. Try to be consistent in all your communications, including e-mail, voicemail and face-to-face interactions.

MEET YOUR COMMITMENTS Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you’ve made a commitment to deliver on something, make sure you meet it. Missed deadlines or the non-delivery of a project won’t be easily forgotten – no matter how charming you may be. If you’ve already developed a reputation for not keeping your promises, you need to recast yourself by over-delivering to change these negative perceptions.

HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF The basis of a good reputation is, first and foremost, to believe in yourself. Projecting confident body language will go a long way towards ensuring you don’t fly under the radar.

BE A CONSTRUCTIVE THINKER Don’t become a habitual complainer, as this label tends to stick. Try also to guard against becoming somebody who is impossible to please. If you have an objection or a complaint to make, voice it tactfully, offer a constructive solution and, irrespective of whether or not your solution is implemented, move on.

BE AWARE OF HOW YOU COME ACROSS TO OTHERS It’s all too easy to come across as impatient or annoyed with co-workers when your own pressures are distracting you. Seemingly benign encounters with co-workers can sometimes come across negatively, so try to be aware of how your behaviour and attitude can reflect on you. If you think you may have come across badly, address the situation with the individual concerned.

MANAGE YOUR REPUTATION PROACTIVELY Perhaps the most important advice is to manage your career like an important project. If anything looks as though it could potentially damage your reputation, act proactively. Take responsibility for mistakes you’ve made, own up to them and try to fix the situation if possible. Managing your online reputation Your online reputation needs to tally with your real-world reputation.

It’s a good idea to do a Google search of your name and see what comes up. Don’t think that, just because you haven’t posted something dumb online, you don’t have to worry about your online reputation.

  • Create a presence online: Make sure you have a clear presence on multiple social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, and post new content on them at least once a month. If you are unfortunate enough to have the same name as somebody with a poor online reputation, consider creating frequent content that will drive your doppelgänger down in the search results.
  • Keep private things private: Don’t post even vaguely embarrassing comments or pictures, as these can come back to haunt you one day. Never post defamatory comments, and think carefully before posting controversial opinions or careless thoughts.
  • Keep track of what others post: Monitor the images that others post of you. If somebody posts an embarrassing picture of you, remove your tag and, if possible, ask him or her to remove the offending picture.
  • Protect your brand: It’s okay to share your personal side online – but only very strategically and as long as it’s in alignment with your personal brand and the image you wish to project to the outside world.

Remember that once information is online, it’s permanent and you will be judged by what people have read about you – irrespective of whether it’s an accurate reflection of you or not – and these people include potential employers.

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